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01.04.09/ The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and the Association of Independent Press (API) have released, within the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections - Coalition 2009, the results of the third monitoring report (19-25 March 2009) assessing the media coverage of the campaign for parliamentary elections in Moldova.

General Conclusions

From March 19 to 25, 2009, the number of electoral programs broadcast on the eight TV and radio media outlets monitored continued to increase and reached 3,108 compared with 2,857 programs aired during the previous monitoring period.

Broadcast media

As in the previous monitoring period, the public broadcasters with national coverage—Moldova 1 and Radio Moldova—continued to cover mainly the ruling party and to broadcast newscasts aimed at influencing the electorate in its favor. Opposition parties most often received biased coverage or were ignored. The number of news items concerning the governing party was much higher than the number favorably or most often unfavorably featured the rest of the candidates.

The private stations NIT and Antena C pursued a similar editorial policy. The lack of debates at these stations could also be viewed as indirectly favoring the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) and limiting access to opposition parties.  

EU TV continued to favor the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD) both in news items and on opinion programs whereas PPCD’s opponents were most often disfavored. PCRM enjoyed mainly positive coverage in the news aired by the station.

PRO TV, TV7 and Vocea Basarabiei tended to provide more fair and balanced reporting on all candidates including the ruling party’s, though PCRM’s were featured most often in unfavorable rather than favorable contexts, without leaving out important events and taking information out of context, distorting it on purpose or presenting it in a biased manner. TV 7 favored the Democratic Party (PD) as it was presented in most news articles in a positive light. Vocea Basarabiei criticized PCRM and some opposition parties during opinion programs. Note that the representatives of the ruling party continued to refuse to collaborate with this media outlet and with PRO TV. 

Print press/press agencies/online publications

All together, the newspapers, press agencies and online publications published 561 articles, reflecting directly or indirectly the election campaign. The number of articles reporting on the electoral campaign and the surface area allotted to them by print media have been fairly constant in the last few weeks although the journalistic genres used changed. Fewer news items were published in favor of more political advertisements and opinion articles encouraging citizens to cast their votes for certain candidates and/or discouraging them from voting for other candidates. 

The tendency to feature the electoral campaign from different editorial perspectives was maintained. Some media outlets openly promoted one candidate while criticizing or ignoring the rest. Thus, Moldova Suverană, Nezavisimaia Moldova, Moldpres news agency and the online publication www.omg.md (OMEGA multimedia news agency) openly favored PCRM. According to their editorial policy, they praised the ruling party on one hand and disfavored or even mocked its political opponents on the other. The same editorial policy was pursued by Flux with regard to PPCD which it supported exuberantly.  

In contrast, Timpul de Dimineaţă, Jurnal de Chişinău, Moldavskie Vedomosti (to some extent) and www.unimedia.md criticized the ruling party and supported or presented the other candidates especially the liberal ones—the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) and the Liberal Party (PL)—in a favorable light. The rest of the media monitored did not directly favor or disfavor any of the candidates. The number of articles seeking to educate the public remained small which indicates that media outlets did not take into account the information needs of the public.

The monitoring methodology has been developed by Oxford Media Research for the monitoring projects of the international organization Global Campaign for Free Expression ARTICLE 19. The characteristics of the methodology are the following 1) a broad spectrum of quantity indicators is used including type, duration, topic of coverage, news sources and frequency and duration of appearance of certain persons in newscasts. 2) the quality component is more developed than in other methodologies and can detect biased reporting during the coverage of events. Each news article or opinion is subject to a content and context assessment to determine if it favors or disfavors a party or a political entity.

***

The project is being implemented in partnership with IMAS-INC Institute for Marketing and Survey, Chişinău. Monitoring time frame 5 February – 5 April 2009. The results will be released bimonthly during the first monitoring period, and afterwards - weekly. 

The project “Monitoring mass media during the campaign for parliamentary elections 2009” is funded by the Eurasia Foundation through the Swedish Agency for Development and International Cooperation (Sida/Asdi) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the donors.

The 2009 Coalition is a voluntary union of Moldovan NGOs aiming to secure free, fair, transparent and democratic 2009 parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova, and continues to promote activities for free and fair elections started by the 2005 and 2007 Coalitions. The current 2009 Coalition comprises more than 60 NGOs.

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